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Lesson 6: The Finder Part One

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Key Result Areas

In this section you will learn about the Finder, what it is and how it is used.

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What Is The Finder?

The Finder is an application on your Mac. It is always open, and it is where you will find all of your applications, folders, and files. In addition, hard disks, external drives, as well as CDs, DVDs, and iPod

s can be located on the Desktop in the Finder.

As soon as you have set up your Mac for the very first time, you will be placed in the Finder. At this point, the focus will be on the Desktop, which will be empty. You will want to place your hard drive on the Desktop for easy access. This is done in Finder Preferences.

To place your hard drive on the Desktop, do the following:

    1. Open Finder Preferences with Command-Comma.

Focus should be on Hard Disks. Press VO-Spacebar to place a checkmark in this checkbox.

  • Press Command-W to close Preferences and return to the Finder.


If focus is not on the Hard Disks checkbox when you press Command-Comma do the following:

  1. Press VO-Right or Left Arrow until you find the Toolbar. .
  2. Interact with the Toolbar by pressing VO-Shift-Down Arrow, and then press VO-Spacebar on General. Stop interacting with the Toolbar by pressing VO- Shift- Up Arrow..
  3. Press VO-Right Arrow until you reach the Hard Disks checkbox.
  4. Press the Spacebar to place a checkmark in the box.
  5. Press Command-W to close Preferences and return to the Finder.

Finder Views

There are four different views, or ways to look at the items in the Finder. They are:

  • Icon View
  • List View
  • Column View
  • Cover Flow View

Cover Flow View is for those who are sighted, and will not be covered.

To display your files and folders, open your Home Folder with Command-Shift-H


Icon View

Press Command-1 to set the Finder to Icon View. In this view, your files and folders are displayed as a series of icons.

  • •To navigate between the icons, press Tab, or VO- Left or Right Arrow. You can also use First Letter Navigation to quickly jump to a file or folder.
  • •To open a file or folder, press Command-O.

List View

Press Command-2 to set the Finder to List View. In this Finder View, the files and folders transform into a vertical list.

  • •To navigate through the files and folders, press the Down Arrow. Each folder will be a collapsed Disclosure Triangle.
  • •To open the contents of a folder, press the Right Arrow. You will hear the number of rows added, and that the folder is expanded.
  • •To navigate through the contents of the expanded folder, the up and down arrows can be utilized.
  • •To open a file, press Command-O.
  • •To back out of a folder, press the Left Arrow twice. You will hear that the folder is collapsed. Then you can arrow up or down through the previous level of files and folders.

Each folder is followed by the date and time it was last modified, and its type, which is a folder.

Each file is followed by the date and time it was last modified, its size, and the type of file such as txt, rtf, or other type.

Note: You will need to press VO-Left or Right arrow to get to the file or folder information.

Column View

To set the Finder to Column View, press Command-3. In this view, the folders and files in the Finder are set into columns.

    •Press the Down Arrow to go through the list of files and folders.

  • •To go into a folder, press the Right Arrow, then down arrow through the contents of the folder.
  • •To open a file, press Command-O.
  • •To back out of a folder, press the Left Arrow. Then you can arrow up and down through the previous column.

After you select the view you want, you can set the Finder window to always open in that view by pressing Command-J to open the View Options dialogue.

Note: You can move from item to item in this dialogue by pressing Tab to move forward, or Shift-Tab to move backwards. If you prefer, you can use VO-right arrow to move forward, and VO-left arrow to move backwards.

Here is what you will find in the View Options dialogue:

  • The first checkbox in focus will give the option to always open in the view you just selected. Press the space bar to put a checkmark in this box if you want this option.
  • Browse in Column View checkbox, select if you want to set the default style of this window to Column View
  • Arrange by Popup, where you select the way in which you want the files and folders in the Finder to be arranged. The choices are:
  • •Name, default selection
  • •Kind
  • •Application
  • •Date last opened
  • •Date added
  • •Date modified
  • •Date created
  • •Size
  • •Tags
  • •None

Sort by Popup, where you select the way in which you want the files and folders in the Finder to be sorted. The choices are:

  • •Name, default selection
  • •Kind
  • •Date last opened
  • •Date added
  • •Date modified
  • •Date created
  • •Size
  • •Tags

The following four items are not for the blind Mac user, but may be useful for those who are low vision or sighted.

  • •Text size, to select the size of the text, with the following choices:
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12, default
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • •Show icons checkbox, place a checkmark in this box if you want the icons for the files and folders to show
  • •Show icon preview checkbox, shows a small preview of what is inside the file or folder
  • •Show preview column checkbox, when checked, the preview column will be visible

After you have made your selections in this dialogue, exit by pressing Command-W, and you’ll be returned to the Finder window.

Opening Applications

To get to the list of applications, press Command-Shift-A. The applications will be arranged in the view that you last selected.

If you want to change the view, do so by pressing Command in combination with the corresponding number of the view you want, 1 for Icon, 2 for List, or 3 for Column View.

Navigate to the application you want to open, and do so by pressing Command-O.

Many of the applications that come already installed on your computer, referred to as ‘Default Applications,’ are listed in the Dock. You will learn how to add additional apps in a later section.

To open an application from the dock:

    1. Go to the Dock with VO-D,
    2. Arrow right or left to the application you want, and press the Spacebar to open it.

There are other ways to get to the Finder. From any open application, do one of the following:

      1. Press Command-Tab until you reach the Finder.
      2. Press VO-Shift-D to go to the Desktop, which is located in the Finder.

Finder Preferences

In Finder Preferences, you will set up the Finder in the way you want it to look, as well as how you want the computer to behave when performing operations in the Finder.

There are four categories in Finder Preferences. Each is a button, and can be accessed by navigating to the button of the category you want, then pressing VO-Spacebar. The four categories are:

      • •General
      • •Tags
      • •Sidebar
      • •Advanced

Now we will describe what controls are within each category, beginning with General. Navigate through these using the VO keys in conjunction with the space bar. You will then see how each item is labelled, in order to make a decision on how to set each control.


The first item in General is labelled, “Show these items on the Desktop.” This means that whichever of these you checkmark with VO-Spacebar will appear on the Desktop.

the selections in this area are:

      • •Hard Disks, such as the hard drive of your computer
      • •External Disks, such as an external hard drive
      • •CDs, DVDs, and iPods, which means if you have a CD or DVD in the optical drive of your computer, or have an iPod connected, it will show in the Finder, on the desktop
      • •Connected Servers

New Finder windows show – this is followed by a popup. Open the popup with a press of the Spacebar, and you can choose one of the following to show whenever you open a new Finder window with Command-N:

      • •All My Files, which is the default
      • •the hard drive of your computer, listed with its name, such as the default, MacIntosh HD, unless you gave it another name
      • •your Home folder, listed by its name
      • •Desktop
      • •Documents
      • •Other… press enter to select another folder


      • •Open folders in tabs instead of new windows
      • •Spring loaded folders and windows
      • •the delay can be set for when these open. they can be opened immediately by pressing the spacebar.


Show these tags in the sidebar: this is followed by a table, in which all of the tags you have created for your files are listed. These will be explained in more detail later.

Drag your favorite tags to the area below to make them available for quick use in Finder menus, and a table with the different colored tags follows. This is for those sighted or with low vision who can see the colored tags.


Show these items in the sidebar: each of the bulleted items is a checkbox, press VO-space bar to check it


        •All My Files

      • •AirDrop
      • •Applications
      • •Desktop
      • •Documents
      • •Downloads
      • •Movies
      • •Music
      • •Pictures
      • •the Home folder of your computer, listed by its name


      • •Back To My Mac
      • •Connected Servers
      • •Bonjour computers


      • •Hard Drive, listed by its name
      • •Hard Disks, such as your hard drive
      • •External Disks, such as an external hard drive
      • •CDs, DVDs, and iPods


      • •Recent Tags

Advanced – press the Spacebar to check each of these checkboxes if you want to enable any or all.

      • •Show all files and extensions
      • •Show warning before changing an extension
      • •Show warning before emptying the trash
      • •Empty trash securely

When performing a search – this is followed by a popup with the following choices:

      • •Search this Mac
      • •Search the current folder
      • •Use the previous search scope

Make sure that you take the time to go through all of these Finder settings and try to experiment with each Finder view so that you can use the one that will work best for you.

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